By J. Yanqui Zaza
While the Congress for Democratic Change (CDC) boasts of countless achievements, residents of local communities are complaining that government institutions such as Phebe Clinic, Zorzor Training Institute, etc. are not providing services because central government insists that it has no money. For instance, reliable sources say that five patients have died at the Phebe Hospital because it did not have fuel. In another example, Staff and students at the Zorzor Training Institute were sent home by the Administrators because Central Government stated that it has no money.
The Commissioner of the Liberian Revenue Authority has disagreed and stated that its Agency has generated more money than projected. More to that, the Central Bank of Liberia’s 2019 Report stated that government generated US $42M as surplus in 2019, as stated on page #51. So, if government generated surplus, why is government not financing its priority programs? Frontpage Africa (3/20/20) “…has constantly reported the lack of fuel, gloves, masks, etc. at hospitals.
The failure to use the US $42M surplus to finance cash trapped government entities did not discourage President Weah and CDC from listing achievements. During the March 8, 2020 CDC Retreat, President George Weah stated that CDC’s accomplishments within two years are far above the achievements of any previous administrations. Subsequently, partisans are now predicting that CDC senatorial candidates will not only win the 2020 senatorial elections, but CDC candidates also will win the 2023 Presidential and legislative elections.
Winning elections might be easy, but whether CDC can deliver benefits to the electorates is the issue. If CDC intends to deliver tangible benefits, it should consider the listed items and suggestions by others.
1) CDC should not absolve former President Ellen Johnson government and big multinational corporations of liabilities based on negotiating 66 fraudulent concessionary agreements. CDC’s assertion on page # 14 of the PAPD is not only incorrect; but it also exonerates those who committed fraud. PAPD stated that “…the process of securing, negotiating, and implementing these concessionary agreements in Liberia met internationally accepted best practices and brought benefits.” However, findings in the 2014 Audit Report by Moore Stephens Audit Firm concluded that former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf government and big businesses signed 66 fraudulent concessionary agreements.
2) CDC should reduce Liberia’s reliance on Special Drawing Rights by increasing its gold deposits. This economic arrangement (i.e., increasing our gold deposits) might reduce interest expense payment and increase Liberia’s foreign exchange rate, and by extension increase our rainy-day-cash. The International Monetary Fund designed this economic arrangement (i.e., reliance on Special Drawing Rights) in order to encourage poor countries to borrow money and instead rely less on gold, which is going for $1.4k per ounce.
3) Can the government institute a policy requiring government to provide local food (rice, cassava, etc.,) to prison inmates, patients at hospitals, students and/or attendees at government conferences; an economic policy that would increase the demand for local food, and by extension create incentives for local farmers to increase their production?
4) CDC should end providing rosy but misleading narratives and provide detailed policy as to how it will accomplish any of its stated goals. For example, on page # 24, PAPD stated that it will “…provide greater income security to an additional one million Liberians and reduce absolute poverty by 23 percent across 5 out of 6 regions…on page # 67, PAPD policy states that “Government will…remove tax preferences, deal with transfer pricing abuses by multinational enterprises…”
5) CDC should begin to fight corruption. CDC’s failure, at least, to discuss corrupt practices by current officials at its March 8, 2020 Retreat indicates that corruption is winning the war. For instance, CDC did not discuss, at least publicly, Chairman Mulbah Morlu’s assertion that President George Weah used public money to build his commercial properties neither did CDC discuss Chairman Morlu’s statement at the Press Conference that he saw government officials who took portion of the missing 16bn Liberian dollar banknotes away.
It should not be a surprise that government has no money since current officials are using public funds for personal benefits, corrupt practices that usually drive good-paying investors from relocating to Liberia. Further, it is not a surprise why government officials continue to deceptively and deliberately delay payments of salary, cut payments for essential commodities and services for hospitals, clinics, schools, government offices, etc.
And, unfortunately, whenever there are limited resources and the government cannot finance essential programs, anti-immigration, ethnicity, bigotry, racism, etc. do increase. Also, ordinary citizens aware of the scarcity of resources, will resort to the use of subterfuges such as ethnicity, bigotry, racism, etc. to acquire public resources at the expense of society. Or as the saying goes, when the sea is dry fish eat fish. Or to put it in the family context, when there is no food in the house, children do not welcome visitors, including their grandpa or grandma.
Presumably, for example, South Africans do appreciate the sacrifices of non-South African brothers and sisters in helping to free South Africa from the cruel system of Apartheid. Nonetheless, they need to survive before considering any debts owed. And, unfortunately, since the leadership appears unprepared to improve their conditions, they target the innocent individuals. Are the stories of xenophobia in South Africa different from stories in advanced countries? Mr. Jeffrey David Sachs, an economist at Columbia University, says no. He indicated that when elected officials do not deliver, bankruptcies become inevitable.
Mr. Jeffrey, in his view, named two recent failed leaders in America who won elections twice, but failed to deliver economic benefits to the majority. As reported by a Liberian local newspaper, New Dawn, Mr. Jeffrey stated that William Jefferson Clinton failed to deliver. This is because, instead of demanding more revenue from big business as Botswana and Germany continue to do, he maneuvered and allowed big business such as Goldman Sachs to manipulate American laws and regulations, the primary reason for the 2008 cash shortage.
The second leader was former President Barack Obama. Although, his policy pumped cash into the auto industry and multinational lending corporations, and by extension, saved thousands of jobs, he failed to create good-paying jobs. He had promised to bring good-paying jobs, reduce students loans, etc. More so, he failed to provide relief for many home owners, but at the same time awarded $13bn to the chief executives who created the 2008 mess in the first place.
Consequently, former President Obama’s failed policy did not only affect former Secretary of State Mrs. Hilary Clinton in the 2016 Democratic Presidential candidate. According to US Senator (New York State), Charles Schumer and Rep. Keith Ellison, (D-Minn), now the Deputy Chairman of the Democratic National Committee, many 2016 Democratic candidates lost; whether they ran for governorships, secretary of states, and states seats.
So, if the 2016 elections in America is a reminder, will the victories of CDC bring prosperity, or should the country prepare for chaos?